Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 March 2018) . . Page.. 769 ..
It is very extraordinary that this is coming from the same party who have operated a federal robo-system of debt recollection from the poorest people in the community, who then have to wait hours on the line to even get to speak to somebody to work it out. I find it extraordinary. We should be sensible about this. I do not think we need these kinds of overreaching speeches in this place. We should just support this legislation and recognise the important safeguards—
Opposition members interjecting—
Mr Gentleman: I raise a point of order, Madam Assistant Speaker. It is almost impossible to hear the minister’s speech with the out-of-control yelling from the opposition on the other side. I ask that they be brought to order.
MADAM ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Ms Cody): On the point of order, I remind members that all members sat in silence while members of the opposition were being heard. I implore you to pay the same courtesy to members of the government.
MR RATTENBURY: I simply observe that the Greens believe that there is a fair, carefully thought-out system in this legislation, and we will not be supporting Miss Burch’s amendment.
MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Community Services and Social Inclusion, Minister for Disability, Children and Youth, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations) (5.22): Mr Rattenbury has made the further clarification that I was intending to. Just to be clear, the bill does not in any way cover former employees, and it is not the government’s intention to pursue the recovery of funds from former employees. That is another matter that could have been clarified if Miss Burch had sought to discuss this with my office at any time since this bill was introduced.
I emphasise again that the current proposed clause 246(2) only relates to clause 246(1), which is exactly the same words as exist in the current act. A public servant is already required legally to repay any amount paid by the territory to the public servant to which the public servant is not legally entitled; it is just that we do not have the mechanism to do that if the public servant and the Head of Service cannot reach agreement on how that should be done.
As Mr Rattenbury has pointed out, the proposed replacement section is incredibly fair and balanced. The Head of Service will always try to seek agreement with a public servant about repayment arrangements and will only take these detailed and reasonable steps—which take into consideration any impact on the public servant’s financial circumstances, any hardship that they may experience as a result of being required to repay—if they cannot reach agreement. I thank Mr Rattenbury for his comments. This is a very fair and reasonable way forward. As I have said, it is supported by the public sector unions. It does reflect the current arrangements in the enterprise agreement. I commend the bill to the Assembly.